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New CDC Breastfeeding Rates Released

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The CDC has sent out new data sharing breastfeeding rates for babies born in 2004. (That includes Nora...guess it takes awhile to compile all that data.)

The good news is that rates are up...slightly. The bad news is they are still dreadfully low.

This chart shows the percentage of children that are breastfed in any amount at birth, six months and a year. You can see that the rates are rising very, very slowly.

The CDC's goals are to raise the rates of exclusive breastfeeding to 60% at age three months and 25% at age six months. That's up from 30% and 11% right now. Pretty ambitious goals, but one that we all need to work toward.

I'm sure it's not a surprise, but the data confirms once again that the more educated and the higher income, the more likely to breastfeed. This is part of the reason that women in the states with strong breastfeeding in public laws can't go home and call it a day. Professional women are far more likely to be able to pump during the work day. In fact, many businesses are now offering lactation rooms equipped with hospital grade pumps and a private refrigerator. However, nursing moms that work blue collar jobs often find it next to impossible to be able to express milk during the work day. We need to work hard to see that every company in every state makes allowances for nursing mothers to have time to express milk so they can maintain their supply and continue nursing their children when they return to the workforce.

The CDC data also shows that once again, Asians have the highest breastfeeding rates (30.6% at three months) and non-Hispanic Black women have the lowest (19.8% at three months). This shows that we still have a long way to go in crossing the cultural divide.


  1. Anonymous sarat | 2:16 AM |  

    The CDC used to have statistics from 2005 on their website. I've just emailed them to see why these are no longer available. (I have a hard copy if anyone is interested.)

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:23 AM |  


    I love reading your blog and I feel that you are one of our best voices promoting women's rights concerning breastfeeding. Just a question in regards to this post........
    Any ideas, suggestions that we as the readers can do to help secure for ALL women the right to express milk during working hours? I agree that is the first step if we want to be able to increase the breastfeeding rates.....so how do we do that?

    I just want to thank you-- for your dedication to the community and your support; blogs such as yours have helped provide a support system for me as a nursing mom and I am sure have benefitted countless others.

  3. Anonymous jessica lietz | 4:57 AM |  

    Ohio has the fifth-worst breastfeeding rates in the country (see the CDC's report card on breastfeeding-- I'm an epidmiologist with a Masters of Public Health so I visit CDC's site a LOT! :) )

  4. Blogger The Lactivist | 6:28 AM |  

    See, that's what I thought sarat...but I *think* that the 2005 data was based on babies born in 2003.

    If you think about it, it makes sense that it would take time to gather all the data and put it together. After all, the babies born in 2006 may not have even turned a year old yet. (Like Emmitt) so how would they have the data, let alone have time to proces it?

    So I think each year when the new data comes out, it's actually sharing the stats for kids born about two years prior?

  5. Blogger The Lactivist | 6:42 AM |  

    Thanks anonymous!

    It's going to be a tough uphill battle securing the right for all women to pump at work. A VERY tough battle.

    Especially since the fastest way to change it (legislation) isn't nearly as effective as the best, but longest way to change it (culture shift.)

    I see a few things each of us can do though...

    1.) Find out if your state has a breastfeeding coalition. If it does, get involved. If it doesn't, then gather up some people and start building one. It's long, hard, slow and often frustrating work (we're doing it in Ohio right now) but there is power in numbers. Solid state coalitions that can organize and come together to work on the national level is, IMO, a key to moving breastfeeding forward.

    2.) We can help arm women with the information they need to negotiate with their employers for time and space to pump. Many employers are open to creative solutions these days. My own publisher worked with me to set up a really innovative option that allowed me to take 10 weeks fully paid maternity leave and then another four weeks fully paid with me working part time. I have a friend who was able to take her baby to work for quite some time. Another friend works in a company that has a lactation room and hospital grade pumps.

    On the other hand, many women work at positions where there's simply no way to get a break. For instance, if you are the only employee at a convenience store, you can hardly slip off for 20 minutes to pump.

    This is where it becomes essential to show employers the benefit of giving mom paid or unpaid break time to pump. Breastfed children have lower instances of illness, meaning mom needs to take less time off work to care for a sick child. Breastfeeding also results in lower risks of many illnesses, including chronic ones, which means less health care costs over time.

    Ultimately though, I think we have to empower women with the confidence and the ability to find new jobs. If good employees start leaving a company because the company won't give time to pump milk, the owners will take notice. It costs a BUNDLE to find and train new employees...even if we're talking about so-called throw-away jobs with high turnover rates.

    I find that many women simply lack the confidence to say "I'm worth more than this and I CAN get a job where my boss respects me." Get women to that place and we'll have taken a huge step forward in the ability to demand things like break time for pumping.

  6. Blogger The Lactivist | 6:49 AM |  

    I saw that Jessica. Bites, huh?

    But I believe it. Almost every baby born in Ohio is born in the hospital and around these parts, most hospitals are NOT breastfeeding friendly.

    I've watched all of my friends have breastfeeding absolutely TANKED by horrible hospital experiences with nurses and doctors that are absolutely incompetent in terms of breastfeeding advice. It was actually one of the main reasons I chose to have Emmitt at home.

    Until I started working with Robin (and Jessica and Anna) on the Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition, I didn't actually have any friends who had managed to breastfeed long term, despite herculean efforts on some's part.

    In fact, among my friends and casual acquaintances, I'd say the rates for Ohio look pretty spot on.

    The fact that Ross Labs is in our back yard probably doesn't hurt. I think it also has a lot to do with the culture here though. I'd wager that if you looked at rates in the large metro areas like Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, they're higher than they are in areas like Youngstown, Steubenville, Toledo and Athens.

    But I could be wrong...

  7. Anonymous sarat | 8:24 AM |  

    Hi Jen,

    I just checked the CDC site again, and you're right. In the past, they labeled their statistics according to the year that the survey was conducted. This year, they've begun to label their stats according to the year the child was born. Glad you got me reading the fine print!

  8. Blogger Damien McKenna | 8:49 AM |  

    I'd really like to see the 3 month rates in addition to these, that would help indicate how quickly moms stop nursing.

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